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U.S. News Names UC San Diego Graduate Programs Among Top 10 in Nation

Campus ranked No. 1 for those specializing in behavioral neuroscience

Geisel Library. Photo by Erik Jepsen.


  • Amanda Rubalcava

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  • Amanda Rubalcava

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U.S. News & World Report today released its 2023 Best Graduate Schools rankings, naming graduate programs and professional schools at the University of California San Diego among the best in the country. The rankings placed nine of the campus’s graduate programs among the top 10 in the nation. UC San Diego is now ranked No. 1 for doctoral students studying behavioral neuroscience, up three places since it was last ranked in 2017.

In its latest 2023 report, the outlet also gave praise to a diverse selection of programs across campus. The campus’s programs in discrete mathematics and geophysics both placed sixth in the U.S., with econometrics ranking seventh, neurosciences ninth, and genetics 10th.

The rankings named UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering 10th overall in the nation and sixth among public engineering schools. In addition, the bioengineering program within the engineering school is ranked fourth in the nation. The school’s computer science specialization in systems placed in the eighth spot within its respective category.

"This well-deserved recognition shines a light on the prestige and distinction of UC San Diego's innovative graduate programs across an array of academic disciplines," said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "Through our university's wide-ranging research opportunities, world-class professors and comprehensive campus resources, each and every graduate student is supported in pursuing their passions, driving positive change and transforming the world."

U.S. News annually evaluates professional school programs in business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing, including specialties in each area. The publication has also refreshed its rankings for graduate programs in social work and doctoral programs in economics, psychology, math, statistics, biological sciences, computer science, chemistry and earth sciences. U.S. News does not review every graduate program annually.

A powerhouse in education and research

U.S. News has recognized UC San Diego as the top-ranked spot for those specializing in behavioral neuroscience, highlighting the strength and reputation of UC San Diego’s Psychology Department. Psychology graduate students work closely with one or more faculty members throughout their university experience in an apprenticeship system and are actively involved in innovative research from the start. Recently, an interdisciplinary team including cognitive and behavioral neuroscience faculty member Tim Gentner demonstrated in a first proof-of-concept study that a bird’s brain activity can be translated into song. The ongoing work lays the foundation for building vocal prostheses for people who have lost the ability to speak.

U.S. News & World Report has also ranked the UC San Diego School of Medicine as 20th in the U.S. among research-intensive programs. It is sixth among public medical schools. The university’s talented medical students and faculty consistently make strides toward addressing regional and global issues.

Recently, a UC San Diego School of Medicine pilot study found that eight weeks of mindfulness training was effective in reducing trauma, depression and stress in individuals grieving from gun violence. This month, the university also announced a $38 million award from the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve global health equity. It will fund a five-year project led by the Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH) at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science.

Further, engineering researchers at the Jacobs School have announced the invention of an advanced brain-computer interface with flexible backing, allowing the device to more evenly conform to the brain’s surface and improve high-resolution brain recording. New research led by Jacobs School bioengineers is also exploring how to simplify repairing disease-causing mutations in RNA without compromising precision or efficiency.

At Scripps Institution of Oceanography, geophysicists have advanced scientific understanding of our planet. This includes tracking ice shelf melting patterns in Antarctica to better measure sea-level rise potential from Antarctica, mapping groundwater flow in California’s Central Valley, a key agricultural hub, and serving as an epicenter of earthquake research, including maintaining global seismic networks, providing data for earthquake early warning systems, and working to advance understanding of earthquake behavior after major events like 2019’s Ridgecrest Earthquake.

UC San Diego continues to attract the best and brightest graduate students, researchers and faculty experts. Alec J. Calac, a candidate in the university’s Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.), was recently invited by the Biden administration to join some of the nation’s leading clinicians and scholars as a participant in the Health Equity Leaders Roundtable Series. This year, five UC San Diego graduate students will also be inducted into the prestigious Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, recognized for their commitment to social justice, inclusivity and academic excellence. The recipients include student leaders in a range of fields: biological sciences, neurosciences, ethnic studies and oceanography.

Graduate programs recognized for strengths across disciplines

The Best Graduate Schools rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence as well as statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty research and students. The below is a sampling of UC San Diego’s programs and specialties that ranked among the top 20 in the nation:

Engineering and Medicine
Bioengineering (4); computer science: systems (8); engineering (10); computer science (11); computer science: programming language (11); computer science: artificial intelligence (11); computer science: theory (12); computer engineering (13); electrical engineering (14); psychiatry (15); aerospace engineering (17); civil engineering (17); pediatrics (19); as well as Medical Schools: Research (20).

Social Sciences
Behavioral neuroscience (1); econometrics (7); psychology (12); public finance (14); development economics (11); economics (14); labor economics (17); microeconomics (18); and macroeconomics (18).

Physical and Biological Sciences
Discrete mathematics (6); neuroscience (9); genetics (10); cell biology (12); biological sciences: biochemistry (13); molecular biology (12); condensed matter (13); chemistry: biochemistry (16); biological sciences (17); physical chemistry (19); and physics (20).

Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Geophysics (6) and geology (12).

The following subcategory is shared jointly by UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Division of Social Sciences: global policy (12).

To read the complete U.S. News and World Report’s 2023 Best Graduate Schools list, visit the publication’s website. For a complete listing of UC San Diego rankings and accolades, visit the Campus Profile.

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